Carnet tickets and fraud

This morning, someone mailed me, yet again, to say they had suffered abuse and false accusation over a rejected carnet ticket; yet again, a woman.  As a result I have, yet again, emailed someone in authority at CR to complain about this abuse of their customers.

I also stopped off today and spoke with the Duty Manager at Oxford station, who responded with a complaint of his own, regarding their belief that there is wholesale fraud being committed by customers with carnet tickets. I pointed out that this, while regrettable (if true), cannot excuse the immediate accusation of fraud, and shouting at, an innocent passenger, attempting to use a carnet ticket honestly. He did at least agree that was unjustified, but made no apology nor any commitment to fix the clearly dysfunctional barrier machines or retrain staff in the art of customer service.

I told him that both I and my wife have demonstrated (to only ourselves, admittedly) that a brand new carnet ticket is quite often rejected by the barrier.  He merely responded by telling me of another machine which is capable of reading the magnetic stripe on the ticket and giving the date of earlier misuse, ‘proving’ fraud. Quite why that machine should be accepted as any more reliable than the barrier eludes me.  I doubt it would hold up under further scrutiny, or in court. Until the system can be verified reliable independently, I believe the allegation of “wholesale fraud” must be regarded with some doubt.

Let me make it clear to any who read this : if you are using carnet tickets fraudulently, OBRAG disowns you and condemns the practise, without reservation.

If, like myself and many others, you find yourself falsely accused of fraud at the barrier then please do the following :

  1. Make a note of the date, time and name (on lapel) of the individual making the accusation, or being abusive.
  2. Demand to have the ticket read by the other machine; if it confirms your innocence then demand an apology, in writing, and a replacement ticket.
  3. If the second machine also indicates misuse, when you are certain the ticket has not been used before, then 1) make a note of the ticket number, or ask for a photocopy, 2) decide for yourself how you wish to take things further, and 3) let me know.

Please make a complaint yourself.

I’m afraid the Duty Manager told me that FGW are petitioning to remove carnet tickets, leaving those (like myself) who regularly, but sparsely, use the service with no discount at all. So the innocent are to be punished, along with the guilty (if indeed they exist).

Finally, he accused me of being hostile toward him, which was quite untrue; I was being very careful with my words, and merely related what had been relayed to me. He said I was shouting, to which I pointed out that I raised my voice only enough to be heard above the din on a busy platform. My wife had a similar experience. So we run the risk of being accused of abuse if we dare to complain. The gulag awaits any who dare.

I have absolutely no desire to be at odds with any operating company – it is singularly unproductive. Neither have I the slightest room for conflict in my life. But this is customer service of the worst imaginable kind, and would never be encountered in the US. The attitude is openly hostile towards customers, and particularly towards those like me who would try to represent them.

4 thoughts on “Carnet tickets and fraud

  1. I know for a fact that it is common knowledge amongst staff that the carnets often don’t work in the ticket machines….I have heard them discussing it amongst themselves on numerous occasions. It’s a real shame that a minority of staff regard their most regular customers as ‘the enemy’. One thing I have found, though, is that the end machines, which allow for luggage and bicycles have a far lower rate of failure than the other machines….almost nil. So if you get a ‘bad batch’ of carnets, it saves hassle to head for those, although of course the queues are longer. Personally, I have got so fed up with the unjust suspicion of staff that I am small-minded enough to want to rip off the railways that I’ve given up using the train and reverted to the Park and Ride. A shame, because I prefer the train, but I refuse to have my working day spoiled by false accusations of theft. Re-nationalise!

  2. One final footnote. Yesterday, I bought a return ticket on arrival. On my way home, the barrier rejected the ticket. A member of staff had no problem letting me through. This confirms two things: first, the barriers are still wholly unreliable, with any type of ticket; second, that the staff are indeed well aware that they are so.
    At some point, I will take this matter up with both Passenger Focus. If anyone suffers abuse, or is barred from travelling on an unused ticket, I suggest the local Trading Standards office, as well as PF.

  3. I’m afraid the attitude of the barrier staff is a direct reflection of that of the duty manager, and you will not get a solution through him. You need to go higher up in the organisation, maybe a lot higher, given the insight into the culture of FGW these incidents reveal.

  4. The barriers are really unreliable with carnet tickets but sometimes with straightforward returns too. I’ve been shouted at by railway staff for not dating the carnet ticket – as has my female partner. Last time, early December, I had dated the ticket but had not put a 0 before date -4th December. Staff at barrier told me very loudly that not putting the zero in (04/12/2013) was a ‘classic fraud tactic’!

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